Panera Faces Lawsuits Over Charged Lemonade Drinks Linked To Two Deaths

Panera Bread is facing multiple lawsuits alleging that its Charged Lemonade drinks caused the deaths of two individuals and left another with long-term heart problems. The company announced on Tuesday that it will phase out the caffeinated beverages nationwide amid these legal challenges.

According to one lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Delaware, Dennis Brown of Fleming Island, Florida, died from cardiac arrest after consuming three Charged Lemonades and unknowingly ingesting high levels of caffeine. In another case, Sarah Katz, a 21-year-old college student with a heart condition, passed away in September 2022 after drinking a Charged Lemonade.

The family of Sarah Katz filed a lawsuit against Panera, claiming the lemonade drink, which contains higher caffeine levels than Red Bull and Monster Energy Drink combined, came with no warning. A third plaintiff alleges that Panera’s Charged Lemonade caused her to develop chronic heart issues.

Panera’s website lists the Charged Sips beverages as containing between 155 and 302 milligrams of caffeine, with a warning indicating they are not recommended for “children, people sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing women.” The company did not specify whether the decision to discontinue the drinks was in response to the lawsuits or health concerns.

Caffeine serves as a go-to for quickly enhancing alertness and feeling more awake. However, overconsumption of this stimulant carries known risks, and Panera drew criticism for insufficiently labeling the high caffeine levels in their drinks, potentially putting customers at risk. Yet, after careful examination and listening to customer concerns, Panera took a commendable step rarely seen in the corporate world: they took responsibility for the issue and made necessary improvements.